Some considerations for half guard from the top

So with a long flight to the east coast, I’ve had much time to contemplate things that have been marginally working and somewhat broken in my BJJ game. One of the areas that has frustrated me is my half guard game. Sometimes I nail things and sometimes I get clobbered.

  1. I suppose the first thing to work on is also the one of the easiest things to fix. And that’s flattening the guy out. If my opponent is on his side, even the tiniest bit, it’s going to make my ability to pass his guard more difficult and it may leave me more susceptible to a sweep, which has indeed been happening lately.So, I want to circle my feet and walk my opponent flat. From there, I have a number of different passes I can try, along with several submissions.
  2. I have been struggling lately to see who will actually get the under hook first. And I shouldn’t even worry about that. If my opponent happens to reach over my shoulder and across my my back, then I will naturally have an under hook. So why worry about it?Just grab the gi at the shoulder and lock him down as I tripod up to free my knee past his half guard. I might have to block his bottom leg a little, but I shouldn’t need to really push much. Once I free my knee, drive it to the mat and complete the pass into side control or into mount.

    *added 7/1/10* One other key to this is going to be keeping shoulder pressure on him.  Since my arm is pretty much under hooking him and acting as a bit of an ancho, I will shift my weight over to the other side of him. This should help keep him from rolling into me or away from me.

  3. Bear in mind that it’s my under hook that’s going to keep him from taking my back. So if I can get it and go for a pass, that’s great. If I cannot get the under hook, then I’m going to have to switch my stance. And this leads me to my next experiment where I have had mixed results.
  4. Rather than simply going for the inverted half guard, if I find myself unable to easily get the under hook, I should sweep my torso across his body and face his legs. Then drive my arm to the mat as soon as I can to block his hips. The whole time, I should make myself heavy on him. But I really don’t want him to hip out at this time.Once my arm is on the mat and against his hips, I have an advantage and can simply drive my elbow backwards. If I want, I can even press my other hand on his hip and try to free my knee while driving my other elbow back. This is going to be very difficult for my opponent to fight my elbow with his arm. He’s either going to give up the half guard, in which case I’ll take the mount. Or he’s going to let me drive it all the way back.Assuming I get his arm all the way back, I know how to get into the arm triangle from that position.

    *added 7/1/10* If my opponent ¬†does happen to go for the under hook when we first engage, and keeps it after being flattened out, try to trap it when I go for the wrap. Obviously, an exposed arm is going to be something we’re always on the lookout for. But how do you attack it from such a position? If I can wrap the arm and go under it at the elbow, then perhaps I can grab my opposite lapel. This will afford me an excellent opportunity for the straight arm bar.*added 7/4/10* Getting the straight arm bar was a bit more difficult than I imagined

  5. If I don’t want to try for the submission from this position, I can simply go for the pass. Don’t worry about his top leg. I simply need to block his bottom leg to free mine and get the pass. I can use my hand to start things off. But I can also drive my knee in to make things that much more difficult on him.

I am sure I will be adding to this list a lot over the next few months. But for now, these are the simple elements I wish to try to incorporate into my routine and be aware of when I am on the top of my opponent’s half guard.

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One thought on “Some considerations for half guard from the top


  1. I had a no-chrome message on a job apilocatipn site. I can understand (more anyway) streaming and plug-in issues but I’m really surprised any time I run into something with payment processing or file upload. These things have been around so long REALLY? I guess this makes some of the run in the browser’ options that much more attractive such as Java or Flash, but the can of worms that opens ..

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